I have way too much stuff in this house. I need to take a week just to recycle and file, and perhaps put up another bookshelf or two to house all the books I’ve accumulated since moving into this residence.
All-in-one gadgets help keep some of the clutter at bay.
They don’t organize anything, but they do cut down the number of tools I need to have on hand, as well as keep the emergency box I keep in my car from running over with stuff.
I’m talking about items like the Black and Decker PD600 PivotPlus 6-Volt NiCad rechargeable drill and screwdriver, with an articulating head ($51 retail, although it’s easy to find at half the price, like many of these driver/drills).
When I first moved into this house, I had no idea how many times I’d need to use a screwdriver or a drill. I learned quickly how convenient it was to have a cordless, reliable power tool.
All the bookcases, several pieces of furniture and tons of odds and ends (such as taking apart and putting together all kinds of fixtures) happened with ease, thanks to this handy tool.
If I lost my tool kit, I’d feel OK as long as I had this and my Leatherman, a pocket-sized, tool that includes among its uses a wire cutter, needle-nose pliers, several sizes of screwdrivers, a can/bottle opener and scissors.
Now, years later, there are tools like the Panasonic EY6225C 3.6-Volt NiCad 1/4-inch Hex Cordless Drill/Driver ($117), much lighter and more manageable than mine.
SOS for the road
Say you want to make your emergency car kit a bit more compact. How about the Swiss Tech BodyGard Platinum 7-in-1 Multi-Function Tool with Key Ring ($30)? (But, they’ve got to come up with a catchier name!)
This baby promises to be all you need, should you find yourself in some kind of calamity in the car, or even in the house.
It’s got an automatic glass breaker, a safety-blade seat belt cutter, powerful sonic alarm that could be used to issue an SOS, a high-intensity high- and low-beam, bright white LED flashlight, digital tire gauge, thermometer and a flashing red distress light for signaling and high visibility.
Then there's the ThinkGeek.com’s Metallic Video Watch with OLED Screen ($80). It's a little beyond Dick Tracy, thank goodness. It pretty much does everything a video iPod does, but fits on your wrist.
You can watch videos, listen to music, gaze at photo slideshows and of course, tell time. I'm probably not going to trade in my video iPod for this anytime soon, but it is an appealing option if I feel like trimming down to the barest essentials on the road.
But let's get back to the more practical all-in-ones, like having a printer that also subs as a scanner, copier and fax. I have an older HP multi-function color printer that does those chores. I've had it for a few years, and I'm not such a fan.
Not having a flatbed scanner is not the most convenient way to feed photos, and the unit's small size doesn't make up for not having the features that make the Canon Pixma MX700 the machine I wish I had gotten instead.
The Canon printer ($200 retail) is geared to the home office user. It's not the heavy-duty device you'd expect in an office -- though come to think of it, it's not as though a lot of those are any more reliable!
But it's considered a solid choice for printing and scanning, and the occasional copying and faxing (when you don't want your whole office to see your business).
What I really, really think would help me cut down the clutter in my house is this combo: shredder/auto-filer/auto-billpayer/vacuum cleaner. Find me one of those things and I think I could finally live in peace.
Until then, I have to get to start living more simply, and use my all-in-ones to their potential.